Much ado has been made about changes new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will make to predecessor Tom Wheeler’s landmark rules, but it seems there is one area where Pai will carry on in Wheeler’s footsteps.
At the Commission’s upcoming March meeting, the FCC will seek to end robocalling once and for all with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry that would give voice service providers more tools to protect subscribers from spam calls.
“These calls are not just a nuisance; they’re often scams,” Pai wrote in a blog post last week. “There are rules on the books prohibiting these unwanted calls, but scofflaws are finding creative ways to avoid getting caught …Scammers and spammers use spoofing to disguise their identity, to trick consumers into answering unwanted calls, and to hide from authorities. And under the FCC’s current rules, which generally prevent call-blocking, there is not much that carriers can do to stop this. This must change.”
According to an explainer, the proposal seeks to adopt rules allowing providers to block robocalls when a subscriber requests that calls originating from that number be blocked, as well as allow providers to block robocalls when the spam Caller ID “can’t possibly be valid, including numbers that haven’t been assigned to anyone yet.” Additionally, the NPRM would seek special comment on how to address spoofing from international numbers, where the FCC said some spammers hide to avoid U.S. regulations.
Pai acknowledged the rules would build on work started last year by the Robocall Strike Force – a group of industry providers, vendors, and other players that came together at the behest of former Chairman Wheeler. The group was tasked with developing and executing an action plan to cut down on the number of robocalls received by consumers each year, and it seems going forward they’ll have the continued support of the FCC.
Also on the agenda for March’s meeting are measures to combat the use of contraband cell phones in prison, boost the quality and efficiency of video relay services, and cut back on paperwork burdens in the Traffic and Revenue and Circuit Capacity reports. Additionally, the Commission will consider a Second Report and Order, Report and Order, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to “facilitate mobile broadband deployment, including LTE, promote greater spectrum efficiency, and reduce regulatory burdens and costs.” The Commission will also take up a measure to authorize channel sharing outside the context of the incentive auction.
Filed Under: Industry regulations